'Helen's Law' bill included in Queen's Speech

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Helen McCourtImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Helen McCourt was murdered as she walked home from work in Merseyside

Proposals for a law which would deny parole to killers who refuse to disclose the location of bodies have been included in the Queen's Speech.

The Prisoners (disclosure of information about victims) Bill, known as Helen's Law, recently ran out of time when the election was called.

However, it has been resurrected in the new Conservative government's agenda.

The bill is named after Helen McCourt, whose murderer Ian Simms has never revealed where her remains are.

Simms, 63, was jailed for life in 1989 after killing Helen McCourt as she walked home from work in Billinge.

He was told he would have to serve at least 16 years before he could be considered for parole.

Helen's mother, Marie, has campaigned for him not to be released until he says where her body was left.

Earlier in December, she spoke of her relief that the Parole Board's decision to sanction his release was to be reviewed.

She had previously said she feared the law would come too late for her, as Simms was likely to be freed before it was passed.

Analysis by Claire Hamilton, Merseyside political reporter

The inclusion of Helen's Law in the Queen's Speech will be a bitter-sweet victory for Marie McCourt, who has fought a tireless campaign to see it introduced.

She was deeply disappointed that it was dropped at the last Parliament, ahead of the snap general election.

A change in personnel at the top level of government has also been frustrating. David Cameron was prime minister when the campaign to introduce the legislation began.

Justice Secretary David Gauke later backed Helen's Law, but he then quit the cabinet over Brexit.

More than 500,000 people signed the petition Marie McCourt started to introduce Helen's law in 2015.

In 2016, St Helens North MP Conor McGinn introduced the Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill 2016-17 under the Ten Minute Rule.

It did not go anywhere then, but his wish that it eventually be drafted into law by the government appears to have finally come true.